Thursday, February 10, 2011

THE TIGER MOM - NEW ENGLAND STYLE


My mother was definitely a tiger mother. Just ask anyone who knew her especially anyone who lived close enough to hear her tirades. She definitely wore the pants in the family and dished out the discipline in a heavy handed democratic way. If it happened to be your turn to feel her wrath anything in reach was fair game to use as a spanking implement, but primarily the discipline was never a "hit or miss" thing (pardon the pun) nor was it ever a guessing game left up to being questioned at length to find the proper culprit of particular misdeed. No, in our house if the guilty party didn't immediately confess, we all suffered the consequences. United we stand, divided we fall!

Education - I don't ever remember being encouraged to excel, although anyone who knew me claims I was always a bit on the nerdy side (I hid it well by the time I reached high school). I don't ever remember being given a pat on the back or told I was good at doing anything. The focus in my home was always directed towards my brothers who were jocks. How could I compete with that, but by becoming a juvenile delinquent? With that I truly excelled and recognition was finally mine! I became the black sheep of the family!

Religion - I remember attending church as a child, but I never felt the calling that many Christians feel. In my search for God, what I found was that I was on my own. If God touched other people's lives, he certainly overlooked mine. Perhaps he/she didn't like my clothes or the fact that I was always a "show me" type of person and wanted some proof positive before I would label myself a follower. I don't remember ever hearing my mother speak about God or the afterlife at home, so I never grew up in fear of sinning. I suppose as I sat in my lily white Congregational church soaking up the scenery, she assumed I would be touched by the hand of God and the wonders of the universe would be revealed to me by osmosis. What had the biggest impact on me was the love of stain glass I developed.

The pecking order - Being the youngest and only girl I was low man on the totem pole in so many ways. For example, the times I would try to tell my mother about one of my brothers doing physically abusive things to me like trying to drown me in the dishwater or throwing me down the stairs, she immediately took his side and believed him when he told her that I was lying. Case closed! I learned early on that my voice didn't matter. I learned where my place in the family was and I learned that the only person who was going to stand up for me was me. It probably comes as no surprise that I started to do exactly what I wanted to do at an early age although to hear my mother tell it she claims she stopped trying to tell me what to do when I was 12 because I no longer listened to her or anyone else. How convenient is it to label a child as being "obstinate" without taking the time to find out what transformed a lovely little girl into a full blown mule?

Chores - My mother went to work when I was 8. She worked from 3 to 11 at the local hospital. When I would come home from school instead of playing outside like everyone else, I cooked dinner for my brothers and my father. At first, my mother would leave detailed written instructions of what to do when and as I grew a little older and more adept in the culinary arts, the note would just indicate what to cook. Growing up, the only thing I can really remember my mother doing around the house is the laundry and cooking when she was home. Her four children were expected to do dishes and clean the house. I hated chores because they seemed to interfere with my childhood and never seemed fairly distributed.

As you notice I used the word "was" in the first sentence. That's because the feisty no frills mother who raised me no longer exists. No, she hasn't passed away, but somewhere in the aging process she has lost her fire. I tell people aliens abducted her and that would probably be almost worth a laugh if it wasn't so sad. Now, I'm the tiger mother who seems to struggle with frustration, stress and non-compliance. Oh, this whole role reversal thing is such an eye opening process that I truly wouldn't wish upon anyone. What a major bitch life can be at times!

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful for being nothing like my mother and I hope when I reach her age, the aliens don't abduct me.

All gibberish within ©2004-2011 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

7 comments:

  1. My mom was the disciplinarian in our home. And she, too, would use whatever was at hand to mete out the punishment. But this was all in keeping with our religious roots of "spare the rod and spoil the child."

    We went to church four times a week and often everyday of occasional two and three week revivals. By the time I reached my teen years I was sick of church. My religious viewpoint was all I really knew and even my education was framed within that view. I was simply encouraged to ignore what didn't fit into the biblical picture as having come from Satan, "the god of this world."

    I guess I was nerdy in school, especially because of my being one of God's "peculiar people." When long hair styles began to be the fashion, my mom dutifully carried me to the barber every two weeks to have my hair cut like Dad's. I stuck out in other ways as well, not the least of which was having trouble making friends because we were taught to not be "unequally yoked together with unbelievers." Mom wouldn't let me go visit some of school chums because their parents might be smokers or drinkers or cussers or whatever. That also kept us isolated from the rest of our family as well.

    On the plus side, my upbringing did force upon me the learning of basics skills such as cooking, cleaning, and running a household. I am very independent and one of my old girlfriends once said - in a not exactly kind way - that I was the most self-contained person she knew.

    I was more or less raised with the idea that God and I made a majority whatever the circumstances. When as I got older I let go of the God of my childhood, I found that I stood alone. There I stand still. Marriage never worked out for me. I chose not to start a family of my own. And even my current girlfriend and I - who are similar in both of us being fiercely independent - have a distantly close relationship. If that makes any sense.

    Hope I didn't bore you with this. I think the point I want to make is that our childhood - those all important formative years - bends the twig in such a way that we tend to grow along those directions for the rest of our lives. That and then there is that genetic thing.

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  2. that was sad; well written but a sad one.

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  3. My mom was a cow mother. Still is. Kind, gentle, happy to stand and eat grass.

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  4. good lord, mildred: must we share every experience?

    Do tell me how you manage the frustration? I have days where I want to run away and join the circus...except I realize I'm already in the damned thing.

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  5. Laoch, thanks!
    Doug B, thank you for sharing that and no, I wasn't bored at all.
    Ur-Spo, it is what it is and sometimes life is a real bitch!
    Diane, I think I would have preferred a cow, but it wasn't in the cards for me.
    Jnuts, absolutely we have to share everything....it's one of our endearing qualities! I don't think I manage the frustration very well because my rather colorful life has been reduced to living safely in a cave. When you're ready we can go find a circus that would have us...that is, some other circus than the one we're in at the present!

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  6. Is that a New England thing....? The deal where either the sinner confesses or EVERYONE suffers?
    Just a little humour to share... when the x-husband was growing up, the 'switch' or 'paddle' was a slipper. Whatever slipper Mom had handy. And all 3 boys were petrified of the slipper that would fly out of the bedroom and AROUND CORNERS to the hapless sinners head.

    Hi!

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